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Strikeout: Roppongi beating suspects to not face murder charges due to use of bats

Shukan Post May 3-10
Shukan Post May 3-10

Due to the choice of the weapon used in the beating death of 31-year-old restaurant manager Ryosuke Fujimoto last year in Roppongi, none of the 18 suspects will be tried for murder, reports Shukan Post (May 3-10).

Prosecutors with the Tokyo District Court have applied manslaughter charges to nine suspects, while another six will be tried on assembly with dangers weapons. Charges have been dropped entirely for three suspects.

A reporter covering the police beat for a major paper tells Shukan Post, “Investigators on the case feel a deep sense of bitterness since the charge of murder was not applied for the brutal incident, one in which the victim was mistaken for another person and beaten to death with bats.”

In the early morning hours of September 2, a group of males in ski masks and armed with metal bats arrived at club Flower and assaulted Fujimoto, who was drinking in the VIP room with a small party. The victim suffered substantial head injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour and 20 minutes later. Security camera footage shows the suspects fleeing the scene in two vans at 3:45 a.m.

Many of the suspects eventually arrested are former members of the bosozoku motorcycle gang Kanto Rengo, a group known for violence. The text inside a book written by a former member of the gang implores: “For an attack, a short, light baseball bat is most suitable.” He adds, “Without hesitation, take a full swing.”

However, prosecutors were unable to prove murderous intent in the Roppongi case due to the choice of the weapon. One arrested member of Kanto Rengo said that the metal bats brought to the scene and swung during the crime are those that the group uses to play baseball on weekends. In fact, the group had a game scheduled a few days after the beating death. “The existence of the game was confirmed by investigators after they spoke with the other team,” says the aforementioned reporter.

Therefore, prosecutors were unable to say that the bats were assembled with the intent to kill.

In March, the National Police Agency announced that bosozoku gangs would be classified as “pseudo-yakuza” groups in an effort to restrict their activities. Shukan Post says that in this at-bat, the cops are down in the count early.

Source: “Kanto Rengo Roppongi satsujin jiken kyoki no kinzoku batto ha kusa yakyu demo shiyo,” Shukan Post (May 3-10)